Next Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam starts process to form new cabinet

Lam says she has met several candidates, while also gearing up for a Beijing trip to meet state leaders

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 March, 2017, 11:56am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 March, 2017, 11:34pm

Hong Kong’s newly elected leader, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, has started putting her cabinet together, revealing on Thursday that she had already met several potential candidates.

The chief executive-elect, who is preparing for a visit to Beijing to meet state leaders for the first time since winning the city’s top job last Sunday, was speaking after a 90-minute visit to her alma mater, St Francis’ Canossian College on Kennedy Road.

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Lam, who earlier promised to “inject new blood” into the government, said she had just begun the process of forming her cabinet by starting to “identify, to discuss and hopefully to invite suitable candidates to join”.

Several ministers or undersecretaries earlier indicated they were unlikely to stay after the current administration’s term expires in June.

Lam declined to comment on whether too many new faces in her cabinet would be counter-productive, only saying that “[the issue is not] me wanting to replace some ministers in the current cabinet ... we have to sit down and discuss whether to accept my invitation to serve another five years”.

She reiterated that talented people would be chosen based on their “ability and willingness to serve”, rather than their political affiliation.

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On Wednesday, Lam paid a courtesy visit to Beijing’s liaison office in the city. Xinhua news agency said office director Zhang Xiaoming had briefed her on the central government’s arrangements for her appointment as chief executive.

“Zhang told me only about general and past arrangements. I am still waiting for detailed information about my trip,” Lam said on Thursday.

When outgoing chief executive Leung Chun-ying was first elected, he received his official letter of appointment from then premier Wen Jiabaoon April 10, 2012, followed by a meeting with then president Hu Jintao the next day.

Lam, making a reference to her predecessor’s case, said: “The last time, it came about two weeks after the election, so [I expect] my trip to take place next month.”

Watch: Carrie Lam visits her alma mater

During her visit to her alma mater, Lam joined a closed-door session with school principal Kenneth Law, a group of teachers and 50 students. She promised that her administration would aim to create more job opportunities for young people, while allocating more resources to improve the education system.

Lam, a devout Catholic, also reiterated that she decided to join the city’s leadership race in response to “God’s calling”.

“The biggest goal of my chief executive election campaign was to build a more just and caring society, and now I have this opportunity,” she said.

“If you analyse it rationally, you might not want to do such a difficult task which might require personal sacrifice, but since the Lord gave me this calling to continue to serve Hong Kong, I responded to the call.”

In a separate development, the University of Hong Kong reported that public trust in the government had increased since December. Some 48 per cent of 1,073 residents polled last week said they trusted the government, while 32 per cent said they did not.